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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Prose Poem: 504 words
By Joan Leotta

My Window, My Morning View

—After Interior with Egyptian Curtain by Henri Matisse*
 

My studio apartment was an economical but virtually windowless box. The living room glass opened to a brick wall, so I kept the blinds closed in an effort to convince myself trees and green space lay beyond. However, I drank my morning coffee at a second-hand brown Formica table pushed up against a sallow yellow kitchen wall. No view at all.

One morning, I decided I could no longer face each day with such a lack of stimulation. I sought refuge and hoped for inspiration at the Phillips Gallery, a short walk from my humble box. Like forest bathing, as it is called today, I spent almost every Sunday afternoon roaming rooms filled with glorious art that filled my soul with calm, joy. My walk did give me an idea for a low-cost solution to my dilemma. I bought the Phillips gift shop’s eight by ten print of Interior with Egyptian Curtain by Matisse—one of my favorite paintings in that wondrous gallery.

Using rounded strips of tape, so they would not show, I stuck the unframed print above my table where my eyes would fall on it when I looked up from my coffee. Now I had a view. I shared Matisse’s interior, those ripe pears, and every morning found renewed joy in the curtain’s boldly done shapes and colors. I delighted in the outside view, now my own as well. Its green leaves meant every day’s start hovered in a sweet spot between the end of a coolish wet spring and the deep humid heat of a DC summer.

I began to bond with Matisse over our shared view. When I learned he had painted this splendid canvas in the year of my birth, 1948, I pretended he had created it for me, a special gift I now shared with others through the auspices of the Phillips.

One Sunday, however, I found a card on the wall in place of “my” painting. The card announced the painting was on loan but would return in three months. I frowned. The guard must have noticed my expression. He stepped over and spoke to me, “I understand. I feel the same. We will all feel relieved when this one comes home.”

Home. I hurried back to my apartment. My Matisse was there, still working its magic, transforming my windowless box into a home. Such magic in the print—no wonder the actual painting acted as a bridge to joy to so many.

In my current home I have many windows, looking onto plants, flowers, even a pond. Many glorious sunrises fill the space made by the glass, starting my days a spectacular beauty. But I do not forget my debt to Matisse. A small postcard of Interior with Egyptian Curtain rests above my writing desk, reminding me of my own creative power, whispering that I am able to create my own world, a happy one, even in a windowless box.

 

 

*Publisher’s Note:

Interior With Egyptian Curtain (oil on canvas, 1948) by French painter, printmaker, and sculptor Henri Matisse (1869-1954) may be viewed at The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC).

See also Matisse and His Textiles: Interior with Egyptian Curtain by Karen Schneider in Experiment Station blog (3 January 2019), The Phillips Collection.

Joan Leotta
Issue 14, August 2022

plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. In addition to her ten published books, her varied writings have appeared or are forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, Pinesong, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, anti-heroin chic, Silver Birch, Ovunquesiamo, Verse Virtual, Poetry in Plain Sight, Gargoyle, and others. Her chapbook Feathers to Stone is scheduled for publication at the end of 2022 by Main Street Rag.

She is a 2021 Pushcart nominee. Her microfiction “Magic Slippers” received the Penny Fiction 2021 award and was anthologized in From the Depths (Issue 19, Haunted Waters Press). In early 2022, she was named a runner-up in the Frost Foundation Poetry Competition. And her poem Magritte’s Apple Explains It All was recently nominated for Best of the Net 2023 by The Ekphrastic Review.

 
 
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